Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In reply

In the course of this debate, I have discovered just how much personal preference comes into it all.

Who do you feel the most pity for? Snape or Wormtail?

I have learned that the answer to this question depends a great deal on what things you hold as most important in your list of virtues. How you feel about Snape is completely subject to how you feel about the power of active choice in defining who you are. How you feel about Wormtail is subject to how you feel about betrayal.

For me personally, here is a list (of some) of the failings that I find absolutely the most despicable in the whole world:

Betrayal- There are a lot of things I can overlook. I am a patient person when it comes to many, many issues that people have. But betrayal is utterly unforgivable. It is a rare case indeed in which I can find it possible to forgive a devastating betrayal. And these cases almost always involve redeeming themselves by sacrificing their life to save the other person from the situation that they were in because of the disloyalty. (Thus proving that the betrayal wasn't complete or whatever. Yadda Yadda, fineprint.)

Displacing responsibility- Blaming your bad choices on things that you can't control because you think that you are infallible. Never accepting the fact that you aren't perfect. Pretending like weakness of will is something that you were born with, and not an active choice you make. "The devil made me do it". Well, if that excuse doesn't work for God, it sure doesn't work for me either. This also includes not living up to potential because of a "disease". Sure, maybe there are things that are harder for you, but if you don't even try, you'll accomplish nothing at all. And this one is big on my list because it's hard for me. And if I can do it, you can do it.

People DRAMATICALLY underestimate what a simple act of will can do. Even being stressed out about something is partially determined by choice. I am speaking completely from personal experience on that. And I really hate that people don't get this idea. Choice is pretty much THE biggest factor in almost anything. Your actions define you. Not petty excuses. And yes, even "Voldemort made me do it" is a petty excuse. It's pathetic. Any kind of "I couldn't help it" is pathetic. You're handing the remote control over to someone else and telling them to take over.

I will get shot in the face at point blank range before I let someone force me to betray something important like the lives of my best friends. That is a choice.

Arrogance- I guess this ties in with the last one a lot. Thinking yourself infallible. Raising yourself up as high and mighty. Ugh. Hate it. SO. MUCH. Which is probably why I will never like James Potter.

Fakeness- Why do I hate Umbridge more than any other bad guy in any other book? Because she is SOOOOO evil, but she has this absolutely revolting facade of sweetness. It seriously makes me barf. At least Voldy is straight up about it. Well, and also because she's very real, and so well written. That helps. But dag.

Or like in high school where people put on shows so that they can be popular, but they're all lies. Yeah, soooo annoying. Webs of duplicity. Weaving nets of lies and deceit. Blah. I'm blunt and to the point. Just tell me how it is.

Stupidity- Not like being less smart than someone else IQ wise. But choosing to ignore the fact that you do actually have a brain. Both in the sense of feeling like being smart is too unpopular to bother, and in the form of not using common sense.

Well, there are other things that I HATE more than anything else in the world, but I can't really think of them right now. These are just so high up on the list, and on my mind right now because of the Snape discussion. And betrayal is probably always number one in whatever mood I'm in.

I think that also very effectively explains why I will never, ever have even the remotest bit of sympathy for wormtail the deatheater scum.

And it also explains why Barbara and I will never agree on this issue. Because it is clear to me now that her most hated pet peeves list is extremely different than mine. And therefore, the answer to the question is going to be steered in a totally different direction.

And I really, really, really wish I could explain myself better. I go back and read this and it just sounds lame and retarded to me. Not cohesive or anything. THAT is another pet peeve, but not a personality disorder, so we won't go into it.

Oh, and there's one more thing I just thought of on why we will never agree on this. It's the head thinker vs. heart thinker problem. Barbara, you are a totally head thinker. And, as much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, and as much as I really hate to admit this, I am a definitely a gut reaction, feel everything type that just happens to have a logical method behind my madness. I like to try to ignore this, but it's useless.

That's partly why I feel for Snape. When I read the part inside his memories, I can't not feel his anguish when he cries over Lily or his helplessness when he can't save people that voldemort kills. It makes me die inside just a little. I cried as much when Snape found the picture of her and wept over it as when dobby died. I'm a closet bawl-baby. It doesn't show in front of people.

And you are probably correct on that account. If there was as good a reason behind Wormtail that I got to experience firsthand, I might feel for him too. Might. And it would have to be really good. At the very least I could pity. But that doesn't exist. And I really don't feel like his reasons are good enough.

K, this time I really am done.

To: Barbara RE: Snape v. Wormtail

Aright, I know we had this discussion months ago. Probably upwards of three. It wasn't long after you first started at the library. But I was shelving J non-fiction at the time, and it is still bothering me that I was unable to formulate my response to your argument. Or "your side of the debate" if you will. ;)

Basically, your side was:

You have less than zero sympathy for Snape. There were too many things he should have done and didn't. Such as 1) He should have taken more responsibility for the slytherins. Too many of them turned out bad for him to have done his job properly. 2) He should have been more fair in his treatment of the students. And other similar things. You get the idea.

You also pointed out that you had more sympathy for Wormtail than for Snape. This is because he was a weak man, and Voldemort was just so powerfully persuasive. Wormtail was less of a bad guy, and more of a victim of Voldy's charms.

Here is my response: (The one that I understood at the time, but was completely incapable of expressing in words.)

The real problem with your argument is the inconsistent use of agency or choice in the judgment of character.

In Wormtail's case, you make it sound like being a weak man is the same as some kind of genetic disease. He was born weak, and will never be able to not be weak. As such, Voldemort merely used an inherent and uncontrollable weakness to exploit a man who couldn't help it. If this was the case, I would agree with you. But it is not. This is crap. But we'll get to that in just a little bit.

In the case of Snape, though, you go to the opposite end of the spectrum. Snape deserves no sympathy because of all of the things that he didn't do enough of. Let's think about this for just a second. So Wormtail gets sympathy regardless of what his actions were, but Snape get's none based entirely on what his actions were.

I sense a disturbance in the force.

Let's go through this and level the playing field, and then see where we stand.

Although I think it's utter nonsense, let's look at the situation in which choices have nothing to do with anything. They are both strong or weak, good or bad, successes or failures, all inherently and unchangeably.

Therefore Wormtail is a weak man who is a victim of Voldy. And Snape is a strong man who defies him. Does this not make Snape the better man? Victim or not, Wormtail is weak. Is it not better to be a strong man than a weak one, if nothing can be done about the condition? Would Snape not deserve more credit for being strong than Wormtail does for being weak?

Now, let's take a look at the real world. IE, the world in which choices make you who you are, not bad habits. Some people are strong, and some are weak. But it's not a state of being, or some incurable disease. It's a result. A consequence of choices made or not made.

Snape was not perfect. Not at all. Maybe it's not illegal to be unfair, but it certainly isn't a virtue. Maybe he could have done more to encourage the slytherin's along the right path. But I would like to point out two things:

1) The slytherins have their own choice as well. Snape can't control them or make them do anything, no matter how persuasive he might be. They have to give in to him first.

2) Maybe he didn't do every single thing he possibly could have done, but he sure did a freakin lot. Think about the life he lived. The double agent life where he could have been killed at any second. The life he gave up in the end. Think about all of the jobs he did for Dumbledore that ultimately brought Voldemort down. Think about how many times he protected Harry, despite the fact that he hated Harry so very much. I mean, really. If the places had been swapped, would James have done as much? Would James have protected Snape's kid? How about a big, fat NO.

Basically, Snape tried to do what was right. He was not great at a lot of things. He still had trials and made mistakes. But he made a lot of decisions that would have been SO easy to ignore. He used his choices to defy the evilest wizard of all time, at the risk of his own life. He was strong, for the greater good. Voldy was not any less persuasive to him. If anything, he was more suave and convincing, because Voldy won't no fool. He knew that Snape was a fighter.

What did wormtail do? He friggin gave in. How's that for a great use of personal agency. He took the easy way out. He faced Voldy's persuasion and wussed out so bad that he even betrayed one of the only friends he ever had. He essentially murdered two innocent people because he was too much of a ninny-pants to think about someone else over himself. He might be inherently less magical than other people. He might be less talented. He might not be good in social situations. But none of that will ever, ever be an excuse for choice. Choice is something that every person has complete control over. He could have protected his friend, at the risk of himself, like Lupin and Sirius and Snape did. If they made the choice, why didn't Wormtail? It wasn't because he couldn't. It's only because he didn't.

I mean, look at Neville. Neville has less talent than even wormtail. And he was a pureblood. If there's anyone in the wizarding world who would have had reason to give in to Voldy's persuasion and become protected by big bad deatheater friends, it would have been him. But he didn't do it. He walked right up to Voldemort's face and sliced off the snake's head instead, even though he figured he would probably die for it.

Summary: Snape is better no matter how you look at it. Without choice in the mix, Snape is stronger than Wormtail, and therefore better. With choice in the mix, wormtail is nothing but scum who used his choices to save his own sorry butt. Snape used his to do the right thing.

So yeah, Snape wasn't perfect, like I said. But Wormtail doesn't deserve half the sympathy that he does. He may have been a victim, but he let himself become one. He wasn't imperioused. He let Voldy tell him what to do. Snape didn't. He broke away.

So, no matter how many times I go over the ideas in my head, they still don't come out right. It was a lot more eloquent and flowing and everything when I was thinking about it earlier. But I think you get the point I was trying to make, at any rate.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

So yeah, I'm a nerd

Yeah, it's true. I make harry potter wands. And not just stupid little "I took a stick and shaved the bark off of it" kind. I make serious wands. Well, as serious as they get when I don't own power tools anyway.

It's super nerdy, I know. But here's the thing. A) I have a really hard time just sitting still. If a movie is good enough, I can be enthralled by it. But generally speaking, I usually need to be doing like four things at the same time.

B) I'm not too bad at it. If I'm gonna spend my abundant spare time doing something, it might as well be creative, constructive, and (if possible) lucrative.

Alright. You're on to me. This is an ad.

So I set up an etsy store. I know lots of people do that, and half the junk on there is really lame. But I figured I could offer people something super unique.
  • A wand that looks nice. You would be excited to take it to your potter parties and movie premiers.
  • You aren't gonna pay like 50 bucks for it. Let's face it, as fancy as some of those wands are, they're made by a freakin machine. It probably is worth about 5 bucks, not 50. Give or take how expensive your electric bill is. The hours I put into mine are so much more than those other people. They charge high because they can.
  • Something you won't be afraid to touch. Yes, lots of those other wands look really nice, but if I bought one, especially at those prices, I'd be afraid of even picking it up, let alone bringing it anywhere. It's too fancy. You won't buy one of those for your child. Not in a million years.
  • Some have designs that you can't do on a lathe.
  • A personal touch. Made by a potter fan, not a money fan. And a fan who can do basic calligraphy on parchment paper, besides.

Anyway, I made lots of these for fun. They started getting better as I made more. One day someone said to me, "you should totally sell these". I was like "uh huh. Right. What do I do, go up to someone and say 'hey, pay me money to play with exacto knives?' Or not."

But I realized it didn't have to be a legitimate, I'm-an-entrepreneur-now type deal. That's what's so great about etsy. So I did it. And people have actually purchased things from me. I was seriously surprised at how fast I started getting orders in. It's so great.

So this is a plug for me. Just check it out, even if you don't want to buy. Tell a friend. Something.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Taylor Swift Speaks the Truth

I feel like this song (and the video too) pretty much defines my life for the past eight years. In two different ways. And no, not about a specific person. Just in general.

1) I really like this song because it talks a lot about being normal instead of being super preppy popular. It's really easy to be invisible when you're not a smokin hot model. And sometimes people don't see how cool you really are because of how hot you're not.

I wear t-shirts, sneakers, and wouldn't be caught dead cheerleading, especially as the captain. That girl is seriously me. There are many, many times in my life when all I want to do is shout "Don't you get it! I'm a person too! I exist!"

This song does a fantastic job of vocalizing that. Every time I listen to it I think "welcome to my life".

Me =>

2) Sadly, it also does a fair job at communicating that people will never get it. And that is the most frustrating part. The part in which I find even more of a connection with my life. Your friends always say things like "Well, they just don't know you. I do, and I know you're awesome." Yeah, that was a nice thing to say, and all, but it doesn't actually make the situation any different.

Because no matter how true it is that "it's the inside that counts", people just don't get to know the inside if they stay away from you because of the outside.

No matter how un-shallow a person is, they will never like you for you if they don't know what "you" consists of. And they won't know that unless they have some kind of introduction to a place where they can learn who you are. Being hot is that introduction for most people.

Even in the video, the guy doesn't notice her notice her until she gets all dolled up with the hair and the makeup and looks just like the other girl on the outside. Then he finally sits up and realizes what a moron he was.

<= Not Me

It sounds like I'm being depressingly negative. I don't mean to be all woe is me. It's just sad that it has to be that way. But really, how else is it going to be? As long as people live in this world, they will never be blind to looks. And as long as they're never blind to looks, the people with all their 'cool' on the inside will always be invisible.

And I guess I'm going to stay that way, because honestly, every time I have gotten "dolled up" to whatever extent, even including make up and hair, I really kinda hate it. Not in terms of the work and uncomfortable-ness, which I do hate, but I just don't like myself when I look that way.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I say "ugh. Gross" but when I look like that, I look in the mirror and say "Uh... creepy? Weird? Not okay on any planet." etc. Don't ask me to explain it, but I just look friggin ugly with straightened hair and oodles of eye shadow. At least I do to me.

It's a catch-22. Fancy up so the rest of the shallow world will notice me while hating myself as I do it? Or like myself the way I am and ignore the fact that the world will never care?

So yeah, that's my life.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary

I have begun to accept the fact that I will never be eloquent.

Some people just aren't born to be that way. And I'm becoming increasingly sure that I am one of those people. It sucks sometimes because there are occasions when I suddenly understand some concept really well, or come to a realization about my life that I'm sure would help other people if they got it too. And then I try to explain it and it blows up in my face. I never do it justice.

Like now, for example. I've already erased sentences that were an attempt to explain this idea in a more prosy way. And they were stupid.

This is also weird because I do write things. Like stories. People automatically assume that if someone writes stories, they are good with words. Unfortunately, this is an egregious falsehood.

Maybe I'm too dramatic for prosy, flowery description. I like exaggeration and explosions and sword fights and words like egregious. Things that are just too big for poetry.

Maybe I'm meant to be an understander, but not an explainer. It could be that it's one of my life trials to never be able to clearly communicate what my brain so effectively comprehends.

But also, maybe there are just too many people who use too many words. As nice as it would be to lend credibility to my little speeches through eloquence, maybe that's not what the world needs more of right now. Maybe we need more people who see it and tell it like it is, even if it is rough around the edges. It could be that we need more people who focus on the meat of the issue, and not the saying of it in a favorable way. Who can explain something so everyone can understand it, and not just the "intellectuals".

It's not a great thing, sometimes. People quite often look down on you if you can't present yourself just right. Appearance and sophistication are everything in this world. If you don't have it, you're no one. Which causes for a lot of... left-out-ness. I'm taken as a no one on so many levels. After all, if you're not pretty in the face or pretty in words, what else is there?

But I'm starting to notice that being so very different is good. If every person was the same, the world would be really, really, REALLY boring. It's hard. And there are days when I wish I could just fit in. But most of the time I'm starting to appreciate it. After all, there are things that I have that no one else does, and they do it to themselves. They could be happy in that way, or stressless in that way, or whatever it is. But they don't, because they care too much about pleasing the man.

Even now, while I'm trying to explain that it's okay to not be prosy, I still keep trying. And it's really not that good. But it's an ongoing process. Being alright with not fitting in will not happen overnight. But I'm sure it will eventually.

These things always turn out a lot longer than I'd like. I also have a problem with being succinct.Which I suppose is related to my lack of explaining ability.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My subconscious is a lot more interesting than I am

I had another one of those random dreams. But this time it was much less the super action adventure, and much more of the super cheesy. Which is really unusual for me. My subconscious must have been in a very sentimental mood, because it even cried during one part which, if I had been awake, would have been sad, but certainly not sob worthy.

You know how dreams are. It's really hard to describe them because the details are sort of an impression, and not so much concrete things. And this one was a lot more like that. But I'll summarize it. It starts out in sort of Jane Austen-y times, except that girls and boys can both go to school.

Basically, boy meets girl. They're at a school where they aren't supposed to hang out very much. Boys and girls are pretty separate.
But they become friends anyway and spend lots and lots of summer afternoons doing utterly random things. Boy falls for girl. Girl really likes boy, but there are complications. Ie her father and past hurt.

<= Boy meets girl

She doesn't trust that he really loves her. Like, she knows that he cares for her, but she doesn't believe it's enough to overcome
whatever opposition is going to come their way. Plus they're still in school. They met at maybe age 6 and started liking each other as teens, so they're very young.

By the time they're fourteen or fifteen, boy is completely smitten. Girl realizes that she, too, loves him, but again with the complications. Her dad has basically forbidden her from ever seeing boy again. She's supposed to marry a rich, hoity toity type.

=> Smitten whilst at school

Girl continues to see boy anyway. One afternoon, they sneak away into the school's campus chapel (it's apparently like a catholic boarding school or something) while a service is happening, because that's one of the only places that they won't be called out for being together. Boy has no idea anything is wrong, but girl is getting a lot of family pressure, and is starting to be afraid again that boy will leave, so she's trying to distance herself.

Boy holds her hand and kisses her on the forehead. She pulls away, and he's dumbfounded. "What's wrong?" "Nothing" etc. The usual banter. Finally girl just straight up tells boy the problem. She tells him how they're both way too young anyway, and they can't be together, but she wants to be.

<= He kisses her on the forehead

And she says, "How long will you love me?"

Without hesitation, boy answers, "forever."

Girl asks, "Even if you have to wait for me?"

"Of course."

"How long will you wait for me?" She asks, and this is the clincher question.

Again, without any hesitation, "as long as it takes."

She's somewhat doubtful, because she knows that no one can wait forever, but she is at least sure that his feelings at the moment are 100% for her. She smiles, he smiles, and they continue as they were, holding hands, cuddling, and making snide comments to disrupt the service and laughing raucously about them.

Then comes the time warp. Yeah, I know. apparently my imagination is very limited. It's just not capable of coming up with a story that doesn't involve some kind of grossly exaggerated action. In this case, the fact that over two centuries have passed, but the two main characters haven't aged more than 10 years.

Boy is walking down a somewhat run down city street. He looks depressed, like his reason for living is slowly slipping away from him. He passes a vaguely familiar building, which is now very modernized and covered in graffiti. This is when we find out what happened to him. (Yes, in a dramatic graffiti montage. Like I said, no such thing as a straight cheesy story in my brain.)

The camera closes in on the pictures on the wall, (yes, just like a movie), which are a sort of painted slideshow. Sad music starts to play. The first one shows a boy and a girl, barely old enough to be in school getting into mischief together and grinning absurdly while they climb a ladder leading to the roof of the very same building on which the picture is painted.

The second picture shows the same boy and girl a few years later, still goofing off, and still having loads of fun in their summer shenanigans. The pictures continue, the sad music intensifies, and we see the boy and girl grow up together until they are about seventeen. They start to get a sadder looking in the pictures as well, and finally the pictures end. (This is the part where my subconscious totally broke down and cried, along with Boy, who bawled his eyes out).

=> Goodbye

Boy realizes that the crazy lady that hung around outside their school must have watched them play for all those years and painted them, because the boy and girl are unmistakably him and his friend. We learn from this that they stayed together for a few more years after the chapel scene, but something happened that eventually made them go their separate ways.

Girl's father had something to do with it, though Boy doesn't know exactly what. And Boy had to join the navy in order to meet expenses, because he was poor, unlike girl. He has just gotten back from sailing the world with the navy, is carrying his sea bag over his shoulder, and trudging down a street that should have been familiar, but has changed so much in the intervening years that it only makes him feel worse.

<= Sailor coming home

Suddenly Boy knows what he needs to do. In the middle of the night, he sneaks to Girl's house, crosses the treacherous yard like a commando (the father doesn't trust anyone), and breaks into the house to find his one true love.

At this point it becomes a little vague, because my brain sort of split into two different endings. The first ending is that he finds girl in her room, looking very sad. She sees him in the mirror. He sees her. And she learns that not only did he wait for her after all, but that he waited for two whole centuries. She never should have doubted him, and they run off together to be married and live happily ever after.

The second ending is a lot more complicated and involves more time travel. When boy goes searching for Girl at her house, he discovers that she isn't there. Because, obviously, sailing the world for two centuries isn't going to allow for things to be the same at home. He's only about 25 or so, but the rest of the world moved on without him. I imagine that this has something to do with his love for Girl being the thing that kept him alive or some such cheese.

Somehow her house is still there, but some random people live in it, and I think one of them actually knew what happened. Like I said, this part got a little more vague. So Boy had to make a treacherous journey through some caves where he had to find out something or get something for the one guy who knew what happened (and secretly caused it all).

Then the guy would send Boy back to his original time where he would be able to find girl, tell her that he waited two centuries for her and still came back to find her, and then they would live happily ever after.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An experiment of sorts...

This is the summary of a story. A fully written story, I might add. Not just a random idea. So no, it isn't me wondering if I should write this.

I'm not telling you anything at all about it besides what's in this summary, for the purposes of this experiment. Not the author, audience, or length, or any of it.

If you do happen to know anything about it, don't tell the other people. I just want to get the straight up, unbiased, first impression reactions to it. Just tell me what you think. (Without reading it twelve times or over analyzing it. Just gut reactions.)

King Arthur, Ivanhoe, Joan of Arc, Achilles, Hercules, Beowulf. Figures of history, or subjects of myth and legend? Folk heroes, whether real or imagined, have shaped human existence. Throughout history their deeds and examples have inspired men and women to become greater, but perhaps none more so than the mysterious Robin Hood.
For centuries we have wondered about the truth behind the legend. Was there really a Robin Hood? When did he live? And was he really the doer of the deeds that later became known the world around?

The true story is somewhat less glamorous. Filled with adventure, intrigue, love, and friendship, Of the Hood reveals the journey of two young rogues who get caught up in a war that’s much bigger than they had ever expected.

Evelyne is an orphan. She is the ward of her uncle in a run down castle that looks over a tiny village. Wild and independent, she spends more time in the forest than at home. Isaiah is the recently knighted son of a wealthy advisor to the king, who wishes for nothing more than to run his own life.
Together they roam the woods, content to live simply and occasionally cause havoc when the tax carts come through. Their imaginations run wild when stories of a mysterious band of outlaws start to circulate through the country. But imagination turns to harsh reality when Evey and Isaiah find themselves swept into the center of attention. They are imprisoned, tortured, and used as bait to capture the infamous Robin Hood.

But the merry men don’t exist, and neither does their leader. The only way for the two friends to survive is to become the Robin and Marion of legend, and fill the shoes that the tales have created. Are they strong enough to save the country from a king that taxes his people into poverty? Can they become the defenders that the people so desperately need, while still coping with the struggles of teenage life? Or were they the true heroes all along?